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Institutional advertising is any type of advertising intended to promote a company, corporation, business, institution, organization or other similar entity. Such advertising is generally paid for by the institution and is geared toward creating a brand identity or image for the company rather than toward selling a product. The most common types are radio, television, print and digital.
The radio category of institutional advertising includes all such commercials played on radio stations, whether it is a music station, talk station or other format. Within the industry, these commercials are often called “spots” and are generally produced to run for a specific standard number of seconds, depending on the geography in which they run. Radio ads may be created by professional production companies; some radio stations also offer production services for an additional fee.
Like radio, the television category of institutional advertising is made up primarily of “TV spots” of a specific number of seconds and produced either by a production company or by the station running the commercials. TV, however, has an additional advertising component not typically seen in the radio world: infomercials. These extended commercials are paid advertisements that are often the length of an entire television show. While these are often sales pitches, they also can be used to build brand messaging.
Print may be the largest and most diverse of the institutional advertising categories. The term traditionally refers to ads placed in print publications such as magazines and newspapers. Over time, it also has come to include advertisements on restaurant menus, in newsletters and in many other forms of non-traditional print publications. Direct mail, in which printed pieces are sent to a customer’s home or business, generally also falls within the print category.
Digital advertising refers to any institutional ad that involves a computer. This includes fliers sent to clients via email and ads on shopping sites, social media sites and other websites. It also includes mobile media such as smartphone applications and text-messaging advertisements. One of the newest categories of institutional advertising, digital advertising is generally thought to be the fastest-growing format.
Another category of institutional advertising is called “out-of-home.” This includes roadside signage such as billboards. It also includes non-traditional media in public places, such as the scoreboard in a sports stadium, ads played in a cinema before a movie and signage on buses, trains and subway cars.
Advertising can take myriad other creative forms, as well. Product placement, in which advertisers pay to have their product placed in a movie or television show, is very popular and can be as much about the brand as the particular product placed. This is why a character might be seen drinking a particular brand of soda or driving a certain model of car. Other institutional advertising methods include sponsorship of non-profit or charity events and on-building signage such as might be seen on the front of a restaurant or retail location.